Alternatives to Housing Zone


The location of the Sibudu Rock Shelter within Ilembe Municipality, and so near Ethekwini, and King Shaka International Airport, presents unique economic opportunities, if the site and its surroundings are developed to optimize the potential heritage income. Sibudu is an archaeological site where discoveries are being made about how its human inhabitants lived up to 80000 years ago, the Middle Stone Age (MSA) Artefacts  include the oldest bone arrowhead  yet found in the world, an awl for sewing leather clothes, shell beads, red ochre, many stone blades, and  sedge bedding. This site has drawn international interest at a high level, and is likely to be made a World Heritage site by UNESCO.  The proposal below enumerates some activities enterprises and jobs  which could be created around this heritage.


  1. Theme Park on Hunters and Gatherers

    The people who inhabited Sibudu in those ancient times lived by hunting the animals in the surrounding environment, or by gathering  roots, grains, leaves and fruit. In other words they had a paleo-diet, without any of the products of modern farming, or processed food from factories.  They caught their small prey in snares, and larger animals with spears, or bow and arrow. They did not cultivate, but gathered a variety of edible plants. This way of life is difficult to imagine from reading in textbooks or from the internet, or even from looking at 2D images.


    The most lively way of presenting it would be in a theme park with live-size models (statues) performing these various activities. Some of the hunting activities might appear quite gory for modern sensibilities, but it is important to locate human evolution within the natural world of predators and prey, “red in tooth and claw”.  Ongoing research  of palaeo-zoologists and palaeo-botanists would inform the details of the creation of this theme park.


    Its location should be on the 53 hectares of sugar cane land (part of portion 1 of Farm 17825 Wewe Drieifontein) which is immediately east of the Sibudu gorge, and north of the Tongaat river.  This land should be reverted to indigenous vegetation as soon as possible, and forest trails would be made through this vegetation for visitors to find their way to the well signed and labeled displays.


  2. Education Centre and Museum

    This should be situated at the top of this plot, nearer to the 614 road. It should contain some of the Sibudu finds,  information about the Middle Stone Age, family tree for hominids, as well flora and fauna information about indigenous  environment of the ancient period. At least as much investment should be put into this as into the Cradle of Humankind so that it utilizes the best of modern interactive museum techniques.  However, in the meantime, while gathering grants for this, it might be possible to start such education operations in the old offices by the road that Tongaat Hulett are moving out of.


  3. It should also have a 100 seater film theatre for educational films about the ancient humans ( or for other films, if the local community need to use it)

  4. The theme Park could also contain an amphitheatre where youth groups could develop and act out appropriate drama on the themes

  5. Souvenir Shop for Sibudu-linked gifts and mementos

  6. Restaurant with  Paleo-menus for the richer  pre-booked customers

  7. Lower priced cafeteria for school and tourist parties

  8. Toilets and rest rooms

  9. Offices for park management  and security

  10. Sufficient car, bus and coach park

  11. Access path walk along the north side of the river, through the riverine vegetation (once cleared of the invasives and sand-mining), and towards the Sibudu gorge. This path could also be a display walk for indigenous vegetation. The walk from the east  is a  sensational experience as the sound changes when one moves from the more open river land into the gorge. It is then necessary to wade across the river at the place where it is shallow in order to reach the south side. Even parties of school children can be guided as far as this.

  12. At the south side is (Ndedwe trust land, with the Dasa family occupying the plot nearest to Sibudu rock shelter). The local people this side could be encouraged to do various enterprises to get money from visitors, for instance
    12.1 Tea and soft-drinks served in their rondavel

    1. A boat ( flat-bottomed punt) to lift paying tourists across the river

    2. Telescope to view the shelter for those who can’t climb up

    3. Car-parking for those who want to approach the site from south side.

13  The Rock Shelter would be under the archaeological management of Sibudu Trust. They would have to decide on access rules and security. More fencing, gate and well-cut steps on the rocks would be necessary if paying tourists are to be granted access.

Ancillary Industry to activities above

14  Youth group for drama. Already Core ZA, led by Muthogisizi Sifiso who narrated for the drama done for children on Sibudu in Botanic Gardens in 2014, is advertising the drama around local schools, and they wish also to perform for tourists.

16 Making the Souvenirs for the shop. These can be fresh designs based on what is known about MSA –e.g. using pierced shells and red ochre

17. An educational kit containing colour-in pages, acacia gum, ochre, pierced shells, sedge lengths, stone chips, leather thongs could be developed and marketed internationally.

18 Shell-gathering or manufacturing for the above, and piercing

19  Specialist Farming for the palaeo diet restaurant